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The Write Question is a weekly video podcast all about writing. Today’s question? Should you switch to dictating your writing? If you have a question you’d like me to answer you can email me, tweet me @pubcoach, or leave a message for me at the Skype account, The Write Question.
Should you switch to dictating your writing? That’s the topic I’m addressing today in The Write Question. I’m Daphne Gray-Grant, the Publication Coach.
I have a question from Larry Lynch, a writer based in Chicago, Illinois. Here’s what he’s asked by email…
“I never learned the right position for holding my fingers when typing and it suddenly occurred to me, could I write faster if I dictated my work? What do you think about dictating your writing?”
Thanks for the question, Larry. In a word, I’d say I’m ENTHUSIASTIC about dictating your writing.
Let me tell you about my own experience using dictation software. I have chronic back pain and, for a number of years, my doctor had been trying to persuade me to switch to dictation, because he figured the act of typing was making my back pain worse.
I resisted because I’d tried the dictation software Dragon Dictate several years earlier — see link in the show notes — and it made so many mistakes that I’d found it too frustrating.
Anyway, my pain became worse and I thought I needed to give the software another try. This time, however, I decided to hire a consultant first. Best decision I’d ever made.
The consultant quickly told me the reason I’d had so much trouble with the software was that Dragon had done a bad job with its initial Mac-based offering — the Windows version was much, much more reliable. But by that point, Dragon had come out with an improved Mac version that she suggested I buy.
I did that and she was right. With the new program and an hour of training, I found dictation to be easy to do and so much faster than typing. I’ve written a blog post about that experience and you can find the link in the show notes.
Now, here’s an update to that story. About three years ago, Dragon decided to stop supporting the Mac. Argh! I was devastated. I’d spent several years dictating quickly and easily and now I couldn’t write that way any longer.
I’ve made half-hearted attempts to try other pieces of software. I find that Mac dictation makes too many mistakes for my taste. I have a client who now dictates at the tremendous speed of about 4,800 words in 30 minutes, using the software otter.ai (see link in the show notes). Unfortunately, I haven’t found that software to be comfortable for me.
But the productivity benefits of using dictation are compelling enough that I’m continuing to look into other options. Two that I’m going to be checking out shortly are Dragon Anywhere and Braina — both of which I should be able to use with my iPhone. See links in the show notes.
Braina is less expensive — $79/year in 2022 — but I’m more familiar with Dragon, which is $150/year. I’ll experiment with both.
Finally, let me wrap up with the words of writer Cindy Grigg: “We are programmed to feel efficient by sitting in a chair, moving our fingers across a keyboard configuration purposely designed to slow down our typing so that typewriter keys wouldn’t jam into one another. Isn’t that kooky?”
Larry, while I think you should still learn to type, there is no shame or downside to using dictation software. Find a piece of software that works for you and go for it!
Viewers, if you have any writing-related questions, I’d be happy to do a video on them. Just send me a quick email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or put a note in the comments section of this video.
And, if you’d like to learn more about how to make writing a happier and more rewarding process, check out my latest book Your Happy First Draft. I don’t sell it in bookstores or via Amazon. The only place to buy it is on my website, link on the screen below and in the show notes.